This is Bertha. It's taken me a while to select a picture of her, I've looked on my old computer files for pics I've taken the last couple of years, but eventually I settled on this one, which I took a few minutes ago. Most of the pictures are the same. She's lying on my bed. More will be shared, but this is her for now. You can't quite tell how small she is...not teeny tiny, but smaller than your average cat. She's very much a puffball, though not a long hair. In most pictures, her green eyes glow in a kind of weird way, and I'm saving those for another entry because they fit into her story. But you can see here that they are a pretty glorious bright green.
Bertha turns 12 in a couple of days (I actually don't know her real date of birth, the 15th is a guess....the origin of her name has something to do with that). That means that I've had her with me dang near 32% of my overall life...more than two days of every seven I've lived. Rider, her predecessor, lived to be about 13 (he died four years ago).
Bertha is a big reason I began this blog, because in those years since we've found each other, she's revealed to me a rather remarkable imagination -- mine or hers, I'm not sure -- and that's what I want to eventually present here. Don't worry, I'll continue the saga of the Baroness as the mood strikes, but it's really Bertha's saga that is going to be my creative focus here.
On the website cuteoverload.com, I have been known by the name berthaslave since I started frequenting the site and posting comments (about a year ago, I guess). It was just something I thought of at the moment, a way of acknowledging my own relationship with my cat as a kind of bona fide for being a pet owner. I didn't think much about it. But now that I am attempting to document this relationship blog-style, I don't know that it's appropriate for me to refer to myself as Bertha's "slave." As a result, I've changed my posting name to berthaservant. As devoted as I am to Bertha, and as much as she may occasionally demand of me, she is in fact probably the lowest maintenance cat I've ever had the privilege to serve. Rider was a handful, a big, beautiful tom who is more accurately described as a dog in cat's clothing. He begged for human food and got destructive if he didn't get it. Meow, our first cat, was a real handful, particularly as she aged and was cursed with a series of infirmities including kidney failure, being burned with hot oil, and surviving not one, not two, but THREE "last visits" to the vet before miraculously recovering. Meow's offspring, Harpo, was an absolute sweetheart, polite and affectionate, but ate like a horse (he was quite the hefty kitty) and usually got attention by being pathetically fat.
That each of these cats might also be a description of me at various points in my life -- or even right now -- is purely coincidental.
But Bertha is more like a shadow pet. I've always had a good sense of her location -- in the middle of the night in a dark room I know where she is on the floor or on my bed -- but she's also prone to disappearing for short lengths of time. Indoors? Outdoors? Who knows. Usually, she sticks to wherever I am, but when I'm gone, or when she gets a little rambunctious, I'm not sure what happens. She eats, drinks, and poops very little. She doesn't really care for human food - occasionally she'll eat a bite or two of chicken. She can't be plied with treats; she's neutral on catnip, and only recently have I discovered that she likes Temptations cat treats (though she doesn't go crazy for them like one of our other housecats, Theo, does). If there's anything that Bertha demands regularly, it's attention, or affection. At any time of day or night she'll insist -- INSIST -- on rubbing up against some part of me. She'll sit at the top of our staircase when I get home and mew until I come up to see her, at which point she runs away from me and sits on my bed as if she doesn't really need me.
Over the years I have begun to understand why Bertha behaves the way she does, and it's a rather complex story, so that's what is going to follow, with photos, hopefully once or twice a week. It involves international corporate conspiracies, foreign governments, and the fate of the planet, so it's kind of difficult to explain here, but all will be revealed in time.